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A huge shout out goes to the Chron’s Lisa Falkenberg for being named a Pulitzer Prize finalist yesterday in the Commentary category. The fella that won was from the Detroit Free Press and wrote about the City of Detroit fiscal mess. The other finalist was from the Boston Globe and wrote about the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. Falkenberg has written about everything H-Town and the Lone Star State like pay-to-play, Pre-K, janitors, payday loans, Lite Guv candidates, and David Wilson. Here is from the Pulitzer Prize on the winner and finalists in the Commentary category:

Awarded to Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press for his columns on the financial crisis facing his hometown, written with passion and a stirring sense of place, sparing no one in their critique.

Also nominated as finalists in this category were Kevin Cullen of The Boston Globe for his street-wise local columns that capture the spirit of a city, especially after its famed Marathon was devastated by terrorist bombings; and Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle for her provocative metro columns written from the perspective of a sixth-generation Texan, often challenging the powerful and giving voice to the voiceless.

There is no doubt that Falkenberg is a kick-arse columnist. I have disagreed with a couple of her takes in the past but she does what she is supposed to do. The winner and the other finalist were writing about major national news stories. Falkenberg was writing about stuff that goes on every day in these parts.

I certainly don’t want H-Town to suffer and experience a national tragedy but I would note that the Chron was named a Pulitzer finalist for their coverage of Hurricane Ike a few years ago.

Well now Falkenberg gets well deserved national recognition. It would not surprise me at all if a bigger publication swoops down here and snags her from the Chron.

Here is what Falkenberg tweeted:

Such an outpouring of support. You’d think I won! …But seriously, thanks for all the kind words.

I have to root for the hometown fishwrap. Way to go Falkenberg!

Today folks remember. Here is the MLB/Red Sox tribute that was shown at Fenway the weekend after the bombing:

http://m.mlb.com/video/v26431535/fenways-tribute-to-bostons-resilience/?c_id=mlb.

MLB teams will be wearing Jackie Robinson’s 42 today.

Everybody talks about Jackie Robinson but can you name the second African America player to enter MLB?

The Chron’s Ken Hoffman has a piece today about CBS’s decision to hire Colbert to replace Letterman. Last week Rush Limbaugh went bonkers over the decision. Who cares? It is not like the old days when we only had a few choices. Now you have a kazillion options so get over it or watch the History Channel or PBS.

The defenders of the NSA are not happy that The Washington Post and The Guardian won the Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on Snowden and the NSA. I am thinking that the defenders are in the minority these days.

Larry Doby of course made his MLB debut in July of 1947 as a member of the Tribe.

Commentary and MariGirl will be heading to The Yard this evening to check out the Royals. I really don’t expect a whole lot of folks to show up – maybe 14,000 and change. We don’t have a lot of KC fans in these parts. It will be nice hear how MariGirl’s new gig is going.

One of Commentary’s political pet peeves is watching Dem candidates for office run away from their president when times are tough. Like they don’t want to be seen with them or mention them. It’s happened with Presidents Carter, Clinton, and Obama. Some folks from the base get a little upset. To me it is a lose-lose situation.

It was very refreshing to see Sen. Wendy Davis embrace the President rather than act like he doesn’t exist. Check this from Peggy Fikac’s column today:

There was the Democrat running for governor, Sen. Wendy Davis, who didn’t avoid crossing paths with President Barack Obama the way some other Democratic candidates have. She not only showed up for Obama’s summit speech, she met briefly with him afterward. As a bonus, she attended former President Bill Clinton’s speech and dinner the night before.

There was the Republican candidate for governor, Attorney General Greg Abbott, whose campaign seized on the fact that Davis’ meeting with Obama was private (rather than, say, in a place where Abbott’s team could get a photo for a future campaign ad).

“So much for transparency,” sniffed Abbott’s camp, which sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the White House asking for any photos that were taken.

And:

As for the potential fallout of Davis’ meeting with Obama, Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak said that “she’s going to get tagged with Obama either way. So you might as well get whatever upside there is if you’re going to get the downside.”

(UT’s Bruce) Buchanan said it’s hard to imagine Davis’ meeting would alienate more Republicans “than are already unlikely to vote for her.” He said, “At worst it’s a wash, possibly a plus for her.”

I think it makes her look stronger. She is not going to shy away from stuff. Good for her and good for Dems.

Tomorrow evening the Royals visit The Yard for three. The Royal have been to the World Serious twice. Name the teams they faced in Serious action?

I have to agree with a lot of what Leonard Pitts, Jr. wrote yesterday about CNN’s coverage of the missing airliner. Here are parts:

Enough, already.

Please, for the love of Cronkite: Give us a break from the missing plane. Yes, we all wonder what happened to it. Yes, our hearts go out to the families seeking resolution. But really, CNN … enough. Put your hands up and step away from the story.

And:

I’m on your website maybe six times a day, CNN, grazing for news. Have you had another lead story in the last month? Has nothing else of importance happened to any of the 7.1 billion people on this planet? I look at you and I want to start screaming like Tattoo on Fantasy Island: “De plane! De plane! De plane!”

And CNN, is it really true your “coverage” includes asking whether aliens abducted Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? Or whether it was swallowed by the Bermuda Triangle? Did you actually wonder aloud if it had flown into a black hole?

Sigh.

And:

Granted, the missing jetliner is not an unimportant story. But neither is it a story deserving of the kind of round-the-clock-man-on-the-moon-war-is-over-presidential-assassination coverage you have given it.

CNN, that jet isn’t the only thing lost. Have you seen your credibility lately?

I don’t keep it on the other cable news outlets because I don’t want to hear opinions from the left or the right. I just want the news. Right now I’m just getting overloaded with pings and black boxes.

Does NPR have a cable channel?

The Royal beat San Luis in seven back in 1985 and lost to Philly in six in 1980 of course.

I don’t know what to say about the team. The starting pitching has been pretty good but we have six starters batting below the Mendoza Line. Heck, the team is batting below the Mendoza Line. Come on!

Silly and Serious

For you rock and roll aficionados, may I recommend you setting the DVR or whatever to PBS this evening at 10 pm and record the “The Dave Clark Five: Glad All Over” show. The DC5 along with The Beatles and Rolling Stones were part of the British Invasion back in 1964. The DC5 ended up being on “The Ed Sullivan Show” like 17 times. For those that were too young to be around, you will recognize some of their songs. Check it out.

Senator Wendy Davis had a brief meeting with The President yesterday up in Austin. Here is some silly stuff that AG Abbott’s mouthpiece put out:

“Sen. Davis stated last month that she would not shy away from President Obama’s visit to Texas, yet in another flip-flop, she instead decided to meet with him in secret – away from the public and refusing to mention what they discussed. We can only assume President Obama and Sen. Davis bonded over their shared support of Obamacare and limiting Second Amendment rights. Texans want a governor who shares there values, not someone who wants to bring Obama’s big government agenda and failed liberal values to our great state.”

Well, maybe they talked about how The President was going to get some of his rich buddies to help out her campaign.

Maybe The President wanted to know how she did on her bracket.

Maybe she asked The President if he would do some robo calls for her in October.

Maybe they talked about the White Sox visit to Globe Life next weekend and maybe he asked her to snag him a Yu Darvish bobblehead they are giving away next Saturday.

Maybe he asked her if the Mavs would end up with the 7th or 8th seed and she asked him if the Bulls would hold the 4th.

Maybe he asked her what she thought of Colbert replacing Letterman.

Maybe she gave The President an autographed pair of pink sneakers.

Maybe she took a selfie with The President and they just didn’t want the whole world to see and then compare to Big Papi’s selfie.

Maybe they talked about Olivia Pope and Francis Underwood.

Maybe she just told The President that he made a pretty good speech at the LBJ Library that reminded folks about LBJ’s accomplishments.

Maybe The President told her that the First Lady recommends dropping by Triniti on South Shepherd the next time she’s campaigning in H-Town.

Maybe The President thanked her for not being in Odessa yesterday.

Maybe The President asked if she became governor would she pack heat when she went jogging.

Maybe she asked The President if they would ease up on deportations as an “act of love.”

Maybe The President told Sen. Davis that if she became Governor and expanded Medicaid in the Lone Star State the GOP would call it Wendycare.

Maybe The President told her he got to check out the maroonbonnets some Aggies planted around the UT Tower.

Maybe, maybe, or maybe.

The HISD Board President changed her mind and put an elementary school closing issue back on the agenda and her colleagues didn’t follow her lead yesterday. Oh well!

The ‘Stros are in Arlington for three. How many no-nos have been tossed by Rangers pitchers?

Talk about wow and ouch, the Chron E-Board really put it on HPD today. I wonder what the Mayor and Police Chief are thinking this morning. Check it out:

Why is the Houston Police Department so prone to mismanagement? This is the question that City Hall needs to answer. It is time for a third-party investigator to take a look at HPD and determine exactly where management breaks down and provide solutions.

Years of controversy at HPD’s crime lab led to an independent report by forensics expert Michael Bromwich, which helped set the lab on the right track. The rest of HPD needs to take the same medicine.

It seems like a month can’t go by without HPD landing itself in another controversy. There were two HPD lieutenants who retired, with full benefits, amid allegations of sexual harassment. The crime lab faces an internal investigation after reports that a former employee did not follow proper procedures over the last two years. This comes on the tail of untested evidence, faked results, inaccurate fingerprinting and contaminated blood tests. We thought those days were over.

HPD has also yet to properly address a lauded two-part article by Texas Observer writer Emily DePrang documenting rampant and unpunished police brutality in Houston. Nor has HPD taken significant steps to address police shootings, even after a series of articles by Chronicle reporter James Pinkerton revealed that a quarter of civilians shot by HPD over the past five years had been unarmed.

Now we’re learning that the homicide division simply ignored stacks of cases and failed to keep track of documents. The problems go all the way to the top: City Councilman Ed Gonzalez, a former police sergeant, kept homicide case files after leaving the force (“Council member imposes penalty on self,” Page A1, Thursday). Because of this incompetence, a man charged with murder now sits out of reach in Honduras. How many other murderers roam free because Houston’s police officers refused to do their jobs?

Neither Mayor Annise Parker nor District Attorney Devon Anderson should be satisfied with HPD’s performance. The department’s failures undermine its reliability in the courts and its trustworthiness in the hearts of citizens. All of Houston suffers when HPD falls down on the job, yet it seems like officers get off with a slap on the wrist.

Gonzalez is punishing himself with a self-imposed 5-day suspension without pay. This voluntary shaming is similar to the consequences faced by eight police officers implicated in the probe that found the homicide department had poorly investigated or totally ignored at least 24 cases. Still, it feels all too much like something you would read in a 1980s book on Japanese management styles. Houston doesn’t need self-pitying. We need answers.

Like I said – OUCH!

Ranger pitchers have tossed five no-nos of course.

Three dingers helped us get a win last night. We are now 4-6.

Bet on Uber

NEWS FLASH! Poor folks always get shafted!

Well, that really isn’t a news flash because we all know that poor folks always get shafted.

Yesterday I was watching on the flat screen the H-Town City Council joint committee meeting on taxis, limousines, Uber, and Lyft. An expert consultant the city hired to assess the current landscape said that if Uber and Lyft were given the access they want, poor folks would bear the cost – in his expert opinion. Game over!

Poor folks don’t have a lobbyist in this fight so expect them to get the old shaft. They always do says history. So I would put my money on Uber and Lyft if you know what I mean so don’t even bother to stay tuned!

The ‘Stros are in Toronto. Name the only player in the MLB Hall of Fame wearing Blue Jay gear?

I have to hand it to the Mayor Pro Tem for suspending himself for five days. Of course it really sounds like he’s docking himself five days of pay because he was at that council meeting yesterday. Here is from the Chron:

City Councilman Ed Gonzalez will take a voluntary 5-day suspension without pay after an internal Houston Police Department investigation found he misplaced six homicide case files as he left the department to take his seat on City Council in 2009.

That punishment, which Gonzalez said he informed Mayor Annise Parker of Wednesday, is consistent with the discipline Police Chief Charles McClelland handed down last week to the eight other officers implicated in a broader probe of 24 homicide cases that had been ignored or shoddily worked.

McClelland has said Gonzalez, a sergeant when he left HPD, would have been among those punished if he still was with the department.

“It was a mistake that happened in my service back then, and I want to get it corrected and do what’s right,” Gonzalez said. “I do feel bad for the situation. Clearly it was a mistake. I think the chief was very firm in indicating that there’s now rules and policies and protocols and procedures to make sure these things never happen again.”

I heard that the lawsuit reform folks had bailed out on the Lite Guv’s campaign. Maybe the Lite Guv ought to reach out to the trials – just a thought.

Second baseman Roberto Alomar of course is in the Hall of Fame wearing Blue Jay gear.

According to the Nielsen ratings, nobody watch the ‘Stros game on the flat screen Monday afternoon. Actually I couldn’t make it to The Yard but I had it on. So I guess I was the only one in the H-Town area watching the game.

I don’t know what to say. We started at 2-0 and since then we are 1-6. It is starting to look more like 2013.

Yesterday a few folks showed up at the H-Town City Council meeting to show support for a botanical gardens at Gus Wortham Golf Course and some showed up to show support for an upgraded Gus Wortham Golf Course. Some fella said that a botanical gardens would transform the surrounding community. He really didn’t explain the transformation process. I guess you could say the same about an upgraded Gus Wortham without really explaining.

Here is the deal. Commentary hasn’t taken a side. When this first came up, the idea of a botanical gardens sounded a lot better than a rundown golf course. Now that an upgraded golf course is on the table it kind of changes the dynamic somewhat.

An upgraded Gus Worthan Golf course will almost certainly increase the green fees and force some of the current Wortham golfers to head to cheaper tee boxes like Brock and Glenbrook. However, it will attract a new golfer that will want to play on an inner city upgraded course.

Of course the botanical gardens will also charge admission so it is not going to be a park-like place where community folks will regularly hang out. Folks will be coming in from all over to visit. I really doubt that the families that live in some of the older nearby apartments will go out and support the botanical gardens. They don’t support the golf course.

If you live nearby you can currently go and walk the course for free – you just have to watch for errant golf balls. You won’t be able to walk the gardens for free.

I think I have only had one conversation with one council member on this issue so I couldn’t tell you where council is headed on this but one would think that it would be a bit harder to change something than to improve something – got it.

Yesterday I mentioned the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron’s record breaking dinger against the Dodgers. Name the former ‘Stros player that was in the starting line-up for the Dodgers that evening?

One of the new shows Commentary checks out is “The Crazy Ones” with Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar. This week Pam Dawber of “Mork and Mindy” makes a guest appearance – cool.

Some GOP members of the State Board of Education will probably quash the effort to teach Mexican American Studies in high school. If the GOP does not support Mexican-American Studies, how can they expect our votes in November if we don’t exist?

Way to go DREAMERS! Put and keep the heat on Dem leaders. This from the SA Express News on the Civil Rights Summit up in Austin:

The summit began with former Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, a fast-rising Democrat and top surrogate of Obama, urging Congress to tackle immigration reform before the end of the year.

“The stupidest thing we can do economically is make them leave. We don’t have anybody to replace them,” said Barbour, referring to the estimated 11 million immigrants who are in the country without legal documentation. “So the impracticality of sending them home should be obvious to everyone.”

Their discussion was interrupted by a woman in the crowd shouting she was a so-called DREAMer — a young person who immigrated illegally into the United States — and calling on Castro to urge Obama to stop deportations of families.

No one removed the woman, who began shouting again when the panel was over.

Castro, the keynote speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, did not respond to the woman but later said he was troubled by families who are deported after minor crimes such as traffic stops.

“My hope is that his administration will go about it in a different way. I’m not comfortable with the number of deportations,” Castro said.

Like I said, way to go.

Jimmy Wynn of course was the starting center fielder for the Dodgers 40 years ago yesterday.

When you go 0-14 with runners in scoring position you aren’t going to win. Now we are in last place.

49 years ago today the Astrodome opened with the Yankees playing the ‘Stros and the rest as they say is history.

Impeachment

The lead story in today’s Chron is about University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall possibly facing an impeachment. Here is from the Chron:


University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall likely committed impeachable offenses, including abusing his office and potentially breaking state and federal law, in his campaign to oust University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers, according to a draft report prepared for the Texas House committee investigating Hall’s activities.

The 176-page report, which was made available to members of the House Select Committee on Transparency and State Agency Operations on Friday, alleges that Hall leaked confidential student information, in apparent violation of state and federal law, in an attempt to silence his critics in the Texas Legislature. It also accuses the regent of trying to manipulate the investigation and coerce witnesses.

It has been 40 years since we went through an impeachment process at the State Capitol. Rusty Hardin’s law firm prepared the 176-page report. Maybe this Wallace Hall fella ought to consider resigning so the whole mess goes away. After all, you can’t impeach someone who is not in office.

As most folks know, State Rep. Carol Alvarado is Co-Chair of the House Select Committee on Transparency and State Agency Operations. If this process moves forward, Carol will obviously be a high profile player in this so stay tuned!

Speaking of 40 years ago today, 40 years ago today Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s career dinger record. Name the venue where Aaron hit his 715th?

The team is 3-4. Last year after seven games we were 1-6. It seems like we have two teams. When we win we look like a very good team. When we lose we look like the 2013 ‘Stros like in yesterday’s loss where we made bonehead plays. We also have some starters that are not even batting their weight.

The Wall Street Journal was in my front yard again this morning. What is up with that?

Hank Aaron made history 40 years ago today at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium of course.

The team is in Canada for three. Which team? Your guess is as good as mine.

Don’t Run Pal!

MariGirl sent this out last Friday:

I’m very happy to announce that starting this Monday, April 7th, I will be joining the team of Neighborhood Centers Inc. as Immigration Program Manager for their Immigration Department. I have always been passionate about moving our community forward and I know Neighborhood Centers Inc. is an organization that holds that same desire. I’m very excited to join NCI in this capacity and I look forward to a future collaboration with you and your organizations.

Good luck Marisol!

I am sure most folks saw the blurb about the Dem congressman that thinks congress deserves a pay raise. Tone deaf? Here is a part:

Retiring Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., is aware that Congress is unpopular, but he still thinks the legislative body deserves a raise.

“I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid,” Moran, who’s announced he will leave office when the current Congress ends, told the newspaper Roll Call. “I understand that it’s widely felt that they underperform, but the fact is that this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world.”

Rank-and-file members of Congress make a yearly salary of $174,000 — well above the median household income in Washington, D.C., which between 2008 and 2012 was $64,267. Still, Moran said, “A lot of members can’t even afford to live decently in Washington.”

The only thing I have to say is if you don’t like the money then don’t run for office.

Name the MLB Hall of Fame great that won the MVP Award with the same team but in different cities?

Well the Chron E-Board put a spanking on Cong. Sheila Jackson Lee this past Saturday. It had to do with North Forest. It is a pretty good spanking so check it out here:

Ten months after HISD took over North Forest Independent School District, the high school has a newly renovated building that doesn’t smell and bathrooms that feature toilet paper, soap and paper towels. “There’s nowhere to go but up” (March 31, Page B6).

Principal Pam Farinas has ended “mall time,” a period after lunch during which students socialized as they would if they were in a mall. With the worst test scores in the state, there’s a lot of catching up to do, and school days have been extended until 4:15 p.m. At the high school, more than 100 students are on probation or parole for criminal convictions, roughly 30 girls are pregnant and a significant number of students have substance- abuse problems. We’re glad that the Houston Independent School District has committed four counselors and two social workers to the campus, even if students could use more help.

For years, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, and others fought hard to keep North Forest alive as an independent school district. “This is going to be a fight for the children. Not for us. It’s going to be a fight for the children,” Lee announced at an emergency town hall meeting in February of last year.

We want to know: Where is Lee now? The old North Forest schools may not smell any longer, but many students at the high school are so far behind that the first step for them is just learning how to attend classes again.

While these students are making progress, they have many needs, some brought on by years of educational neglect. HISD is funding math tutors after school to work with students to build up basic math literacy. But many can’t read fluently, and funding for literacy tutors is not available.

To help these students catch up, the community should support these students through the gift of our time.

The North Forest area, in the northeast part of the city, does not boast much in the way of business or the cultural arts, yet some students seldom leave the area. Requests for field trips are met with a chilly reception; North Forest High School’s reputation precedes it. As a consequence, the students have a limited understanding of possible careers. To remedy this deficiency, Farinas would like to bring the community to North Forest. She says that North Forest High School would welcome speakers from all walks of life, and not just lawyers, doctors and nurses. Cosmeticians, X-ray technicians, mechanics, plumbers, day-care providers and construction workers, to name a few, have much to teach these kids about the broader world.

As camera crews may not be in evidence, we don’t expect Lee to show up to tell these students about the life of a congresswoman. But we are grateful to Principal Farinas and the other principals and teachers in this area for committing themselves to try to make a difference in the lives of these children.

These kids now may have a long way to go to catch up. But as Lee liked to pontificate when she was fighting to keep North Forest on life support, “We can’t ever give up on our children.”

Ouch!

Here is what I don’t get. The HISD Superintendent recommends closing five schools and the HISD Board votes to close just one – and that one is now a maybe. What is the point in recommending closing schools then? Here is the latest from this weekend’s Chron:

Facing continued protests from parents and activists over the looming closure of Dodson Elementary, Houston school trustees plan to reconsider its fate.

Board president Juliet Stipeche, with support from two trustees, exercised a rarely used policy to bring the item back to the board for consideration Thursday – four weeks after the board voted 5-4, during a tense meeting, to close Dodson. It’s unclear whether there are enough votes to save the school.

“We’re expecting the community to keep up the pressure,” said Loretta Brock, a community activist who organized a student boycott over the closure. “We are turning up the heat.”

Stipeche, whose district includes Dodson, voted with the majority in March to close the school. After mounting criticism, she received support from trustees Wanda Adams and Rhonda Skillern-Jones to add an item to the board agenda next week, over objections from Superintendent Terry Grier’s administration.

Grier had proposed closing five small schools, but Stipeche used her power as board president to remove three of them from the list in early March. The board later voted to close Dodson and to turn Jones High into a specialty career-focused school without athletics.

Grier’s staff released a statement Friday saying the administration stands by its recommendation to close Dodson, a few miles south of downtown, and to rezone the students to Blackshear, Lantrip and Rusk next school year.

“Regardless of the outcome, we will continue to work with the entire Dodson community – teachers, students, parents, community members – to ensure that we create a school environment where students can focus on learning,” the statement said.

HISD’s initial closure proposal said Dodson landed on the list because of “changes in housing development patterns.” Grier also acknowledged that district officials wanted to use the building to house students from other schools being rebuilt – a justification that frustrated Dodson supporters.

Officials are considering temporarily housing students from the Energy Institute High School and the High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, Stipeche’s alma mater, at the Dodson campus during rebuilding.

“After careful consideration of additional information and community input, I felt the need for this to be reconsidered,” Stipeche said, adding that Dodson’s Montessori program was popular enough to draw more than 200 applications, and parents were concerned about security around Blackshear Elementary. “I know that it’s difficult.”

Dodson enrolls about 445 students. Blackshear, a couple miles away, has about 340.

Trustee Paula Harris, who voted in the minority to keep open Dodson, said she expects to be absent from the board meeting Thursday. If Stipeche is the only trustee who changes her vote, the motion to keep Dodson open will fail on a tie.

Trustee Anna Eastman, who also voted against closure, said she is unsure how she’ll vote. She said she opposed the Dodson closure last month because it wasn’t part of a broader facilities plan.

“I just have a real problem with putting something up for vote one month and then bringing it back the next month,” Eastman said.

Oh well.

I got a Wall Street Journal delivered to me this morning. I think the Chron is trying to get me to subscribe. I don’t think so.

The great Willie Mays of course won the NL MVP Award with the New York Giants in 1954 and with the San Francisco Giants in 1965.

Well the team is 3-3. When they win they look great like in yesterday’s five dinger victory. When they lose they look like the 2013 ‘Stros. The H-Town fans are still not convinced though. They had crowds of 14,000 and change and 15,000 and change this past weekend for the Angels.

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